Make the most of your European vacation by knowing which cities offer you the most affordable options for travel and tourism. Check out our top five list of the cheapest vacation destinations across Europe. Our list draws from a number of other lists, including the European Backpacker Index and the Forbes Affordable Travel Index.
About the Backpacker Index
PriceofTravel.com is a database of travel costs for more than 100 cities throughout the world. The Backpacker Index tallies the costs of a bare-bones travel itinerary, including one night in the cheapest lodging, travel via public transportation and admission to one paid, well-known attraction a day. The Forbes list uses similar research. We’ve sifted through the list to include the most attractive cheap vacation destinations in Europe to help you plan your European tour.
Sofia can be difficult to reach — the inbound flights from major cities can be expensive — but the city more than makes up for it with low prices on just about everything else. If you’re working in a strict budget, you can hang out in Sofia for about $26 a day, and that includes the cost of your lodging, meals and entertainment. You can get a decent dinner for as little as $5, and one of the best city attractions — the 2-hour Walking Tour of Sofia, is absolutely free.
Istanbul may be one of the most historically significant cities in the world, but it’s a bargain for travelers, if you pay attention. Sandwiches and street food are very affordable — and extremely tasty. The off-season, which generally runs from December through March, ushers in very low hotel prices, but even during peak season, you can find great deals in hostels and vacation rentals. Avoid touristy places for meals, and you’ll find great dinners for less than $10.
Budapest is trendy these days, but it’s a newfound trendiness, so many of the amenities are still quite affordable. You can get a hostel bed for less than $10, and a room in 4-star hotel for as little as $60 a night. In fact, you can get a decent room at a mid-range hotel for about what you’ll pay for a hostel bed in London. If you avoid the trendiest restaurants and clubs on the river, you can get a good sitdown meal for less than $10 USD.
Greek islands have a reputation as being expensive, but most of them are surprisingly affordable. You won’t find many cultural attractions, and you won’t be doing the big-city-bright-lights thing, but if you’re looking for a peaceful getaway in a rustic location, islands like Santorini are a great option. Expect to spend around $50 a day for lodgings, meals and entertainment.
Naples makes an Italian vacation affordable, if you’re willing to take a few chances. It’s nor your usual tourist city, which is part of the reason that prices are far cheaper in Naples than in Rome. You can get a decent hotel room for as little as $50 a night, or stay in a hostel for around $15. Meals are similarly affordable, especially if you avoid pricey restaurants that cater to tourists. You’ll do best if you have family or friends who know all the local secrets.
It’s still possible to do Europe on $25 a day, but it takes a little bit more doing than it used to. Our list is a good starting point to help you plan your own European vacation.